(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) While some recent high school graduates are wondering what their fall semester will look like, other graduates have their future set.
“Well, I’m earning money while I’m working during my senior year instead of sitting down in a class all day,”said Ashton Hoover, Benton High School senior.
The first round of students from the Northwest Missouri Registered Youth Apprenticeship Program are graduating this year with a few tools under their belt.
“Their senior year, they’re working between 20-40 hours per week at our different employers and are able to learn company specific training for these skilled trades and then graduate and have the opportunity to enter these businesses as journeymen, making great pay, benefits right out of high school,”said Clara Liles, career counselor at Hillyard Technical Center.
Hoover is graduating high school with a full-time job.
Hillyard Technical Center said St. Joseph has been in short supply of skilled trade workers. Now, the local apprenticeship program is filling that gap.
“Seven of ten of our seniors are going to work as journeymen at the employers they were already partnered with which is a great rate of success,”said Liles.
Local businesses partnering with the program said they've also seen promising results.
“Out of the six that we’ve started with, we have four that have stayed and we’ve given them full time positions,” said Jon Barron, general manager at I&M Machine and Fabrication.
Students learn hands-on trade skills while still enrolled in high school. Career counselors said their key to success have been the mentors.
“Dave taught me how to build jigs, Marty taught me how to take my time and pay attention to what I’m doing and Mitchell taught me how to be consistent with everything you do,”said Hoover.
Partnering businesses said they're in favor of the program as it allows them to weld the students into the workers they need.
“Benefits that I see is that we can train them to do this job the way we want them to,”said Barron.
Local industry leaders said they're, "looking forward to the next round (of students)," said Barron.
The apprenticeship program has expanded their region to include the following districts: Savannah, Stewartsville, Union Star, King City, Maysville, Osborn and Mid Buchanan.
New companies such as Daily's Premium Meats, Clarios and Proserv have joined as partnering businesses.
Liles said they will start recruiting more students starting in the fall.
Interested students are encouraged to learn more on the St. Joseph School District's website.